Brian Morton (Scottish writer)

For the American author, see Brian Morton (American author).

Brian Morton (born 1954) is a Scottish writer, journalist and former broadcaster, specialising in jazz and modern literature.

Early life and career

Born in Paisley, near Glasgow and raised in Dunoon, Morton was educated at Edinburgh University and taught in the late 1970s at the University of East Anglia (under Malcolm Bradbury)[1] and the University of Tromsø in Norway.[2]

A former literary editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement and contributor to The Times, he became freelance about 1992, returning to Scotland around the same time.

Freelance writer and broadcaster

From 1992 to 1997 Morton was the main presenter of Impressions[3] for Radio 3, a fortnightly Jazz and improvised music programme. For more than a decade Morton was a familiar voice on music programmes and features on other arts related subjects on the London-based BBC networks. For some years he was one of the presenters and a producer of The Usual Suspects,[3] Later he hosted The Brian Morton Show on BBC Radio Scotland, until 2003 after criticising the BBC's art coverage.

He is co-author (with Richard Cook) of The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (formerly ...on CD), whose ninth edition (undertaken single-handed following Cook's premature death in 2007) was published at the end of October 2008. He is also the author of The Blackwell Guide to Recorded Contemporary Music (1996), which covers modern classical music. Morton was a frequent contributor to Jazz Review magazine, and was briefly editor in 2008; the magazine was absorbed by Jazz Journal in 2009, for which Morton has written. He is a long-standing contributor to The Wire and to the Catholic weekly The Tablet. Morton converted to Catholicism in 1984.

Morton's non-jazz books include translations from the Norwegian of Jonas Lie, Miles Davis (Haus Publishing), Prince: Thief in the Temple (Canongate Books) and Shostakovich (Haus). A short biography of the writer Edgar Allan Poe appeared in November 2009.

Morton has been a 'Comment' columnist in the Scottish edition of The Observer newspaper and, like his American namesake, is an occasional contributor to The Nation magazine.[4]

Private life and honours

In 2011, Morton relocated to Kintyre, moving with his family into a small former monastery.[5] He now writes and farms with his wife, landscape photographer Sarah MacDonald. They have one son. Morton also has two older daughters from his first marriage.He is writing a biographical study of St Columba.

He holds an honorary D.Litt. from the University of St Andrews, awarded on St Andrews Day, 2000, for services to Scottish broadcasting and cultural life.[6]


  1. Brian Morton "Far Cry" column, Point of Departure website [Issue No.18, August 2008]
  2. Book review, Times Higher Education Supplement, 19 May 1995.
  3. 1 2 Brian Morton, Penguin author page
  4. Contributor profile, The Nation magazine website
  5. Brian Morton "Far Cry", Point of Departure website, [Issue No.36, September 2011]
  6. "St Andrew's day celebrations", University of St Andrews website, 27 October 2000.
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